Jasmine Roth of HGTV’s “Help, I Wrecked My House!”

It has been a long time since I’ve watched HGTV. A few years ago, the big thing was that Joanna person and her shiplap. She loved that stuff so much that I wouldn’t have been surprised to see her bring back “woody” station wagons by hanging shiplap on the side of her Chevy Suburban.

We’re in the middle of some renovation here at Squirrel Manor, so I gravitated toward HGTV once again. The formula hasn’t changed. Like all reality TV, there is little real about it, and nothing much happens during the hour-long episodes. They seem to exist merely as vehicles for Home Depot and Lowes commercials. But, there is now a whole new cast of people with sledgehammers busting down drywall and breaking up tile. I’ve also noticed shiny, brass plumbing fixtures and kitchen hardware are the hot things. I keep expecting to see one of the designers install a solid brass toilet.

I seldom see shiplap on the newer shows where the latest buzzword is “beachy.” If you are into alcohol, “beachy” could make a good HGTV drinking game. Watch out, however, you’ll get sloshed! My wife and I just shout out “Beachy!!!” every time we hear it.

Amanda Mull’s article for The Atlantic has some observations on The HGTV-ification of America.

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

A flower blossoms for its own joy.

Oscar Wilde

Snapshot Of Happiness

Barney Fife impersonator at Mt. Airy’s Mayberry Days

Memories. A solo trip to Raleigh, North Carolina in my new 1991 Ford Probe. There, I met one of the computer scientists who developed digital audio. He had worked on the team that made the IBM 704 computer sing “A Bicycle Built for Two,” and he had built one of the first Windows-based digital audio workstations in the US.

After just five minutes of a demo showing me the miracle of non-linear audio editing, I knew I had to have it. For me, and the rest of the audio industry, this was the dawn of digital. No more tape hiss. No more razor blades and splicing tape. Unlimited “undos” with non-destructive editing. As many tracks as I’d ever want. This, and machines like it, changed everything in audio production.

Driving home through the Blue Ridge Mountains, filled with excitement about how I would put this new technology to work in my little business, I pulled into a small diner in Mt Airy, North Carolina. There was a Blue Plate Special, a plastic checkered tablecloth, and a waitress who told me I might want to drive into town and catch “Mayberry Days.” I did.

It was Andy Griffith’s hometown, all done up with reminders of the TV series their favorite son had made famous. I saw a small crowd of people walking behind a fellow who looked just like – – could it be? Is that really Barney Fife? No, but he was a damn good impersonator. He even had the walk down pat. I slowed to gawk and wave. Then, “Barney” yelled at me in that high, excited Don Knott’s voice “Get that car outa’ here!!” I obliged before he could pull out his citation pad and lick his pencil.

It was one of the happiest moments I can recall, as the past, present, and future seemed all wrapped together in that moment of laughter.

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us.

J.R.R. Tolkien

Exotica Was A Thing

I occasionally rise early enough on Sunday mornings to hear “The Retro Cocktail Hour” bounce off the ionosphere from Radio New Zealand – 7AM ET – 11:00 UTC – on 7245 kHz. Your AM radio dial only goes up to 1600 kHz so you have to receive shortwave to hear it.

This morning the host was featuring an assortment of “Exotica” tunes. Exotica, as your friendly Wikipedia will tell you, “. . . is a musical genre, named after the 1957 Martin Denny album of the same name that was popular during the 1950s to mid-1960s with Americans who came of age during World War II.”

Exotica was not the musical cup of tea for my Boomer generation, and the main reason I am familiar with it is that, as a young adult, I worked at radio stations that played standards or “Middle-Of-The-Road” music.

I remember comedian/musician Steve Allen on TV making fun of the genre. He would let loose from behind the keyboard with a loud “smock-smock” to imitate the cheesy exotic bird calls heard on the Denny recordings. He even released a silly take-off called “Mah-Mah Limbo.”

I feel certain that some of the interest in exotica sprang from the introduction of stereo sound reproduction. Record labels were looking for music that showcased the gimmick of wide stereo separation, and what better than a jungle full of wild animals bouncing from the left and right speakers? Home hi-fi enthusiasts were quick to snatch up records more for their sound effects than their musical content.

The blooming of exotica coincided with the popularity of the “Tiki” culture. Think Tiki torches, faux Tiki god icons, coconuts, leis, and sweet “south sea” cocktail concoctions. Nearly every town had a Tiki lounge/restaurant incarnation. If you saw one, you had seen them all, exactly like the “Luau Room” at Louisville’s Standiford Field (now Muhammed Ali International.)

Luau Room – Photo University of Louisville Archives

Sometimes music takes a quirky, weird turn. Novelties, it seems, have always existed; from screwball vaudeville to the CB radio craze. Goofy stuff creeps into our music and becomes a thing.

Thought In Memory Of Thomas Brown

To live content with small means; to seek elegance rather than luxury, and refinement rather than fashion; to be worthy, not respectable, and wealthy, not rich; to listen to stars and birds, babes and sages, with open heart; to study hard; to think quietly, act frankly, talk gently, await occasions, hurry never; in a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common — this is my symphony.

William Henry Channing